The NFL never lose. In recent years it has survived the retirement of the best in its history (Tom Brady), to franchise owners expelled for continued abuse of their employees, to racist emails from coaches, to the shameful exile of Colin Kaepernick, to the debate about concussions and the future of this sport, to a strange drop in the level of play last season… But for every problem he finds a new vein. None, of course, like that man fallen from heaven called Taylor Swift.
The Swift effect exists and is a blessing for us, had stated Roger Goodellleague commissioner in the days before the superbowl that the Kansas City Chiefs They won in extra time (25-22) against the San Francisco 49ersWhat he didn’t say, but it wasn’t necessary, was that he planned to exploit it to the maximum. While the fans discussed whether or not the artist’s presence bothered them and she tried to go as unnoticed as possible by, probably, the most famous woman on the planet, the NFL She dedicated herself to riding the wave of abundance that accompanies the singer wherever she goes.
In the absence of knowing the definitive data, the estimated audience for the match was 120 million viewersbecoming the superbowl most watched ever, ahead of the 115.1 million viewers who turned on the TV during the same Chiefs’ victory, this time against Philadelphia, a year ago. The milestone goes far beyond sport. Only one small historical event brought more Americans to the screens: the arrival of man to the Moon in 1969. There were then 150 million, but after the moon landing, football and more football.
Anyone who knows a little bit about American sports knows that a movie comes out of every little thing. What happened during Sunday’s game could have been scripted by Goodell himself. In sports, it was a fantastic Super Bowl for excitement, unexpected turns and legendary hero: Patrick Mahomes.
After being outmatched for much of the game, the Chiefs defense allowed everything to be in the hands of their quarterback on the last possession of the overtime. If they stopped him without scoring, San Francisco won. If he achieved touchdown, the triumph will be yours. Like so many times since he arrived in the league like a tornado, Mahomes responded with magic. Thirteen plays and 75 yards later he won his third Super Bowl, only surpassed by Joe Montana and Terry Bradshawwith four, and Tom Brady, with seven. The scary thing is that he has only been a starter for six seasons and, at 28 years old, he has more than half a career ahead of him. He doesn’t have a ceiling. He surely doesn’t have it.
But, although it may bother the purists, a Super Bowl is never just sport and that’s where the (other) stars aligned for the NFL: Swift and her boyfriend, Kansas City’s second biggest star, Travis Kelce. The singer witnessed the match from a box, accompanied by her best friend Blake Lively and an entourage of NFL employees documenting everything. At one point, when I was competing with a friend in that very American hobby of downing a beer in one gulp, the organization decided to put it on the video scoreboard. Half a stadium away he began to boo her and she responded like the diva she is: she emptied the glass, slammed it against the table and gave the audience a generous and victorious half smile.
Meanwhile, on the grass, Kelce lived a parallel drama during the first half in which his only appearance was to lose his temper with his coach, Andy Reid, a giant and good-natured 65-year-old bear, and shake him for removing him from the field during a play. The image was ugly. Very ugly. With another coach he wouldn’t have played more, but Reid is above that and in the second half he put the ball in his hands again and again. Kelce responded with nine receptions for 93 yards, the most of the game. In the end, they hugged for a long time and Reid settled the matter: I love him the way he is. Taylor Swift seems to agree and their happy kiss on the grass was the image that invaded the planet. And there was the NFL to take advantage of it with an astronomical audience.
The NFL never loses. Patrick Mahomes and Taylor Swift, neither.